A True Neighbor

On March 20, Fred Rogers would have turned 85. Instead, he left us on February 27, 2003 at the age of 74. Nowadays, there seem to more people out there unlike Fred Rogers than actually like Fred Rogers, and that’s a scary thing. Watching “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” as a kid had a tremendous effect on me. A tremendously positive one.

Doing good things, acting selflessly, thinking positively, loving life and living it with a smile were just some of the things Mr. Rogers stood for. His program embodied everything he was about, and it was all completely genuine. If we all tried to possess more of the qualities he had, we would all be in a better position. Instead, we turn a blind eye to it.

That’s the reason society is the way it is today. We act selfishly and recklessly for our own benefit and don’t take into account the ramifications of those actions on not only others, but more importantly, to ourselves. Something tells me it’s only going to get worse. We see more “Jersey Shore”-type programs on TV now than the ones like “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

Granted, are 20, 30, 40, 50-year old types going to watch Mr. Rogers? Probably not. But we can focus our attention away from negative influences and place all our attention and efforts into constructive, positive endeavors that won’t ruin us. For some of us, unfortunately, there is a point of no return that they’ve already reached. Not because it’s impossible, but because they don’t want to change it. It’s too much “fun.” This is the result of years of conscious negative behavior.

The point of this entry is simply to say thank you to Fred Rogers. Thank you for being the kind of person that you were. I wish I could act more as you did, and I wish others could do the same. Thanks, Fred.

Image

Mr. Fred Rogers: March 20, 1928 – February 27, 2003

Hey Stranger, Pay My Salary

I’m taking a break from I’m With You, Kinda Sorta to focus on a topic that literally makes my blood boil. I could go on about this for hours, but for the sake of my cherished readers I’ll try to keep it pretty short and simple, although it probably won’t work because I’ll probably rant, but PLEASE hear me out. (Or rather, read me out).

I’m gunna cut right to the chase on this one. Tipping should be illegal. Better yet, paying someone an hourly wage of $2.50-$3 per hour should also be illegal. For example, If a waiter/waitress makes $2.50 per hour without tips for a full 40-hour work week, he/she would bring home less than $100 per week, counting deduction of taxes. That’s utterly ridiculous and shameful.

Because of this, the people in the serving industry (and any other industry involving tipping and unjustifiable hourly wages) rely on total strangers (in most cases) to pay not only their bill for eating or drinking in the establishment of choice (which can be upwards of $60 for a nice place and big meal) but also a “gratuity” which can add $20 or more to the bill. Even if it’s a $5-$8, that’s still extra money needlessly coming out of the paying customers’ pockets.

Image

If only the Environment Agency kept tabs on Applebee’s.

I was inspired to write this entry not only out of my disdain for tipping, but because of an incident involving an African-American pastor from St. Louis named Alois Bell, who went out to eat at an Applebee’s with around nine other people, and was nice enough to pay for the whole group. When the bill came, Applebee’s kindly added an automatic 18% “gratuity” to the bill, which added another $6.29 to the grand total.

Bell scratched out the $6.29 printed on the receipt and wrote “I give God 10%. Why should I give you 18%?” and wrote “0” on the tip line. Bell’s waitress was offended by Bell’s seemingly rude action and notified, or should I say gossiped, to a co-worker that she wasn’t rightfully tipped. The co-worker must have agreed with Bell’s waitress because the co-worker posted a picture of the receipt to Reddit.com and the picture was then seen by hundreds of thousands of people.

Image

Bell, who didn’t feel she needed to pay even EXTRA to someone simply bringing her the food from the kitchen, was mocked, ridiculed, and harassed by basically the entire country because of one obnoxiously stupid individual getting paid a ridiculous wage that depends on the generosity of others for financial support. Here’s the catch, though.

“What they didn’t show is the money that I left and that we all left on the table,” said Bell.

The best part is that BELL LEFT TIP MONEY ON THE TABLE, AND SO DID THE REST OF HER GUESTS, AND THIS COCKY, IMMATURE, STUPID, SELFISH WAITRESS STILL FELT SLIGHTED BECAUSE SHE WASN’T PAID AN EXTRA FEW DOLLARS THAT WAS AUTOMATICALLY PLACED ON THE BILL BY THE CHAIN RESTAURANT! Here’s what the co-worker Chelsea Welch had to say about Bell’s actions and why she posted Bell’s personal information to thousands of people on Reddit:

“I took a picture of the note because I thought it was comically immature,” Welch said. “I thought it was humorously silly, the fact that someone would not only refuse to tip, not only make themselves out to kind of be a jerk but also play the religion card as an excuse.”

Image

Welch was obviously trying to sound sophisticated when talking to the media, but apparently it wasn’t working. “Comically immature”? “Humorously silly”? No wonder she’s depending on tips to support her family. Welch of course has it wrong. Bell did not “refuse to tip.” Instead, she left money on the table, which Welch and Bell’s waitress happened to overlook. So Bell is a “jerk” for declining to spend an extra $6.29 even when she paid the bill (which was probably an outrageous amount) AND after she left cash for the waitress? So Bell is “playing the religion card as an excuse”? What a sickening statement from someone so ignorant and selfish. Welch needs her head shoved up her own ass and hung upside down by both her feet for that one.

Applebee’s fired Welch for posting the picture, and rightfully so. What’s even more disgusting is that Welch wrote an article that appeared in The Guardian explaining why we should all feel bad for her and be happy to pay her salary as well as why she posted the picture of Bell’s bill in the first place. Let me break down the article for you so you don’t have to subject yourself to reading her pathetic manifesto. What appears in quotes are Welch’s exact words. Everything else comes from yours truly.

  • The title of the article is “Tips are not optional, they are how waiters get paid in America”…Yes, tips are in fact optional. I’ve been to places where I haven’t left a tip and the FBI didn’t show up at my door the next day to arrest me. Furthermore, even when there’s an automatic gratuity no one is holding a gun to your head to pay it.
  • “I posted it on the web as a light-hearted joke. This didn’t even happen at my table. The note was left for another server, who allowed me to take a picture of it at the end of the night.”…A light-hearted joke? Sure didn’t seem like that to me. If you in fact meant posting this picture as a light-hearted joke, you should have said so on the website. Instead, Bell was personally attacked by thousands. Doesn’t seem like much of a joke to me. If it didn’t even happen at your table, Ms. Welch, you should have stayed out of it. Sure, Bell’s waitress showed you the bill where Bell didn’t leave an extra tip, but you chose to post it online.  So you should have to pay the consequences, in this case, your job.
  • “I worked with the Reddit moderators to remove any personal information. I wanted to protect the identity of both my fellow server and the customer. I had no intention of starting a witch-hunt or hurting anyone. … This is hearsay. You’re busted and now you’re trying to make it seem like you tried to do the right thing. You worked with the Reddit moderators? I didn’t know you were that high up in the company. What are you doing at Applebee’s? If you had no intention of doing harm, why post the picture? Whenever you post something on the Internet, especially in a social platform, you’re taking a huge chance. You took it anyway and look what happened.
  • “The person who wrote the note (Bell) came across an article about it, called the Applebee’s location, and demanded everyone be fired — me, the server who allowed me to take the picture, the manager on duty at the time, the manager not on duty at the time, everyone. It seems I was fired not because Applebee’s was represented poorly, not because I did anything illegal or against company policy, but because I embarrassed this person.” …Again, more hearsay. Bell wouldn’t have come across the article if it wasn’t for you, Welch! YOU posted the picture and started this mess.  Oh, so you’re saying Applebee’s wasn’t represented poorly? I don’t think this puts Applebee’s in the best of light by any means. You didn’t do anything illegal or against company policy? Are you an attorney? You were fired because you embarrassed someone? I doubt management came to you and said “You embarrassed Ms. Bell so we have to let you go.” Nice try.
  • “We make $3.50 an hour. Most of my paychecks are less than pocket change because I have to pay taxes on the tips I make. After sharing my tips with hosts, bussers, and bartenders, I make less than $9 an hour on average, before taxes. I am expected to skip bathroom breaks if we are busy. I go hungry all day if I have several busy tables to work. I am expected to work until 1:30am and then come in again at 10:30am to open the restaurant.” …You SHOULD have to pay taxes! I do.  You SHOULD have to share your tips with your co-workers. More than 25% of America’s private sector makes less than $10, so you’re not alone. Don’t play that card. What is this, second grade? You’re expected to skip bathroom breaks. I’ve never heard of a server that’s peed or pooped their pants because they have a few extra customers. You go hungry all day. I didn’t know I was in North Korea.  You chose to take the job so you should work the hours required. If you don’t like it, then quit.
  • “I have worked 12-hour double shifts without a chance to even sit down. I am expected to portray a canned personality that has been found to be least offensive to the greatest amount of people. And I am expected to do all of this, every day, and receive change, or even nothing, in return. After all that, I can be fired for “embarrassing” someone, who directly insults his or her server on religious grounds.”…Again, you chose to take this job, Welch. Millions of people don’t get a chance to sit down during their daily job functions. Your manager must have had a leather whip, and every time he/she saw you attempting to sit down, whipped you across the back and left bloody track marks. So wait…your job doesn’t allow you to be yourself so you have to put out a “canned personality” least offensive to the greatest amount of people? I guess you’re not too nice in the real world.  So you’re saying you were insulted by Bell’s comments and that’s why you posted her bill online? I smell money instead.
  • “I need tips to pay my bills. All waiters do. We spend an hour or more of our time befriending you, making you laugh, getting to know you, and making your dining experience the best it can be. We work hard. We care. We deserve to be paid for that.”…It’s not my responsibility nor anyone else’s responsibility to pay your bills, Welch. That would be your job. If your place of employment is only paying you $3.50 per hour (and you would love to see a non-tip-dependent wage like you say you do) then leave. It’s not that difficult. I don’t want to be your friend. I don’t want you to make me laugh. I don’t want to get to know you. I do, however, want you to bring me my damn food and drinks. After all, that’s what you get paid to do. I’m not doubting your work ethic or your ability to care. I’m just hungry and I want to eat. You do deserve to be paid for that, and you ARE. The establishment needs to pay a reasonable wage like $12-$15 per hour. Not $3.50.
  • “I can’t understand why I was fired over this. I was well liked and respected at Applebee’s. My sales were high, my managers had no problems with me, and I was even hoping to move up to management soon. When I posted this, I didn’t represent Applebee’s in a bad light. In fact, I didn’t represent them at all.”…So you’re saying you have absolutely no idea why you were fired over this? Give me a break. You may have been well-liked and respected, your sales may have been high, your managers may have had no problems with you, but you did a bad thing. A bad thing that, regardless of what you say, not only put Applebee’s in a bad light, but put severs everywhere in a very bad light. Sorry we dashed your hopes for the future and you didn’t move up to management. Never again will you ever have an opportunity to do a single thing your life again? No way.
  • “I’ve been waiting tables to save up some money so I could finally go to college, so I could get an education that would qualify me for a job that doesn’t force me to sell my personality for pocket change.” …It’s not the job of the public to put you through college. I didn’t know you were a comedienne.
  • “As this story has gotten popular, I’ve received inquiries as to where people can send money to support me. As a broke kid trying to get into college, it’s certainly appealing, but I’d really rather you make a difference to your next server. I’d rather you keep that money and that generosity for the next time you eat out.”…Anyone who sends you money is an absolute sucker. I hope you don’t receive a dime. There are countless broke kids trying to get to college, but that doesn’t mean they need to exploit someone else’s perceived misdeed to thousands of people to try to make a selfish point that wouldn’t need to even be made in the first place if you didn’t take the job. It comes with the territory, baby. There are going to be people that tip, and people who choose not to. People are entitled to do what they want to do regardless of how you feel about it. You knew going in that this is what you would face, and you need to take it like a woman. (Or man, to not be sexist to all the male servers out there).  So you’re trying to make a difference in the world by harassing Ms. Bell? Could have fooled me.

Not only did you make a fool out of yourself by posting that bill on the Internet, but you made an even further fool of yourself by portraying yourself like you did in that article.  To avoid things like this, and for everyone to be treated and compensated fairly, tipping should be outlawed. Establishments like Applebee’s should be forced to pay a reasonable wage (in my estimation $10-$15 per hour) to wait on customers and make the customers’ dining experience a good one.

applebees welch

An old friend sent me this link on the history of tipping… http://www.ehow.com/about_6192417_history-tipping.html

My friend wrote, “The bottom statistic in the article tells you everything you need to know about why it still exists. It saves restaurants 26 billion dollars a year in employee compensation, which in return lowers the cost of the food you are ordering.”  That’s all well and good that it saves restaurants billions (when they’re probably already raking in billions) and it’s also all well and good that food costs may be lowered. But my question would be, “How much lower?” I’ll need to do some further research on that, but this post has already gone on too long.

I’d rather have to pay a few extra bucks for my meal than pay the server’s salary.  In fairness, here’s another link that same friend sent me.

http://shine.yahoo.com/work-money/what-kind-of-person-tips-10-dollars-for-85-pizzas–173851199.html

Check both of those links out. It’s important to hear both sides of the story but I just can’t understand tipping for the many reasons I listed above. I always had very strong opinions on the topic, and the story about Alois Bell just got me going even more.

By the way, I’m accepting tips for the awesomeness of this entry.